Friday, September 30, 2016

An exclusive interview with the real life inspirations for Queen of Katwe, Phiona Mutesi & Robert Katende #QueenofKatweEvent


****Disney provided an all-expense paid trip for me to cover this great event ****

Before each and every interview I get a bit nervous, there are some butterflies in my stomach, it is not a bad feeling, more of feeling of excitement, because I am going to meet some amazing people. The interview with the real life inspirations for Queen of Katwe, Phiona Mutesi & Robert Katende was one of the interviews I was most looking forward to. Unlike other interviews I have done, these were not people playing a part, these were the folks who made history and were the inspirations for the Queen of Katwe book and the eventual Disney movie.  
For me, it was just an awesome feeling to be one of the people to chat with the real inspirations, but unlike celebrity interviews this would be different, I hoped that we all did not overwhelm them with questions, because they are just normal folks like us (well so are celebrities, we are all human, but you know what I mean. Right?) I could only imagine being in the spotlight and answering questions about my life… But Phiona Mutesi & Robert Katende were professionals, they seemed very comfortable, and friendly it was like sitting and chatting with friends you knew forever.

Of course we are all wondering, what is it like to see your story on the big screen? For Phiona she found it interesting, and could not believe it. I would agree, if my story ever hit the big screen it would be unbelievable! Especially since there is not much to tell, but hey you never know where life will bring you? What has surprised you the most in bringing your story to the big screen?  
Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Robert Katende, stated:  The whole experience was quite surprising because it's something which I could never have imagined in my life.  It just proved to me, a sense of awareness , encouragement of what you're doing …So to me, that was remarkable because when I look back to my childhood… The whole country now will try to ask, where is Robert?  It's quite amazing to see”.

How was it for Phiona to be in the U.S.? What did she enjoy the most? Did she get to indulge in french fries and ketchup? (You have to see the movie to get that one, it was a pretty funny scene) according to Phiona, she has been indulging in fries and ketchup, and the coolest thing she has gotten to do in the U.S was walking on the Red Carpet.  

Robert Katende, Phiona Mutesi on the Red Carpet for Queen of Katwe
Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

Yes, walking on the Red Carpet is an amazing experience, I would have to totally agree. I can’t imagine being in her shoes, America is so very different than her home, it must have been such an emotional journey. But Phiona, may have never taken this amazing journey without someone who believed in her, a mentor that challenged her to be the very best she could be, her chess coach Robert Katende. How has the role of mentorship played in his life?  
According to Robert, it is something remarkable,Mentorship is not something that is on and off, it is an ongoing process” “Being a mentor allows you to develop tolerance and patience”  It was such a fortunate meeting when these two met, it was like it was meant to be, the teacher and the student both learning from each other.

What life lessons do you think children and adults can learn from chess? According to Robert Katende, “There are several, actually, there are many values that we meet on a daily basis in our lives; child's life that you can involve them well to the platform of chess.  You can tackle, abstractive thinking, problem solving, decision making, weighing options, even responsibility because chess mentors you in finding value and where you have to get comfortable with your decisions, and don't simply make moves.  You should have a plan.  You should have an objective.  It gives you an, an opportunity to where you can  ideas and try to figure out how to bring them to reality”.   
Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Chess, like life, can be filled with a good deal of fear and frustration. How do you react in situations of fear and frustration?   Phiona Mutesi “My reaction whenever I would lose a game, most of the time I would cry. The pain of pressure, that's when I cry most.  Like whenever I was in Uganda, I could do most of my games, so here I am; I'm coming to Russia; I thought everything is going to small.  Yet, I forgot about that this before, that is different experience from Uganda and , so from that, I think I got an experience- a great one, and got to learn everything, so it doesn’t affect me anymore. Whenever I lose, it’s just part of the game. I just had to learn from that.”. 

Robert Katende, chimed in and said,Fear, It hinders a lot, especially for the children; that they have nothing to relate to- so no one has ever done it.  They cannot connect . So it's more like, no, you step out.  You be there first.  You take that responsibility. We just offer have real-life situations.  Then the question now is, what do you think is going to change us?  You see yourself; Ask the person, what's going to change this turnaround, to make this happen.  So it's like you start to instill a sense of discipline and responsibility.  You need to see it from their perspective; not look at all- I wish my aunt had done this; oh, I wish my mom was available, but and my personal life, I tell them, look at me.  I'm a typical orphan; I never knew that things would ever change.  But in every case, I had to keep on trying.  I'd rather try than fail to try, and then  I say it didn’t work out"

That end quote, of “I’d rather try than fail to try” this is so very powerful, it reminds us that sometimes you fail sometimes you succeed, but if you never try you will never accomplish much. You have to give things a shot, even if you start small, and try new foods, little things like that, (even if you may be a bit scared) soon you will be trying more and experiencing life like never before.
Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Phiona mentioned that she is currently ranked as a Candidate Master in chess. This ranking is three slots before hitting Grandmaster. Apart from World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain. That is pretty impressive in my eyes. Phiona is still quite young and she will have plenty of time to work on being the champion she dreams of being, and for all she has gone though and persevered through I am sure she will one day realize her dream of being a Grandmaster champion. What advice does Phiona have for young girls that may be scared of stepping out? 
She said to “Have hope in everything you're doing, and just be hard working, and just approve about yourself; you feel like, no, I don't wanna be like this.  Have a dream, I want to be this in my life.  So that, really, right, you're like, I don't want to be like this".   Meeting these real life inspirations was an honor it was something I will never forget. Be sure to go out and see Queen of Katwe, it is an amazing story that makes you laugh, makes you cry and gives you hope to believe in your dreams. Queen of Katwe is playing in theaters everywhere, starting today. 
Like Queen of Katwe on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QueenOfKatwe/
Follow Queen of Katwe on Instagram:
 https://www.instagram.com/queenofkatwemovie/ 
Follow Queen of Katwe on Twitter: https://twitter.com/queenofkatwe
Visit the Queen of Katwe website: http://movies.disney.com/queen-of-katwe


Queen of Katwe opens in theaters everywhere today!










Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions . No monitory compensation was received. I was not required to write a positive review. Your experience may differ. The opinions I have expressed are my own I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .

Fun new and upcoming Elena of Avalor books from Disney Publishing!


Disney's newest princess Elena of Avalor seems to be the most popular princess out there. From costumes to toys Elena is everywhere, and I love it! She is even meeting in the Disney Parks now and she is wonderful. I love the strong powerful character she is. If your kids are fans of Elena of Avalor why not check out the fun books below. The books will make great gifts for stocking stuffers or just any day gifts. Giving the gift of reading can be given at any time. The colorful books below show off Elena and her world and they take the reader on a magical journey to Avalor, a must for any Elena fan.
Elena of Avalor Feliz Navidad: A Royal Christmas - Elena of Avalor Elena decides to host one big Navidad celebration in the park so everyone can celebrate together. But each community is trying to prove that their traditions are the best. Can Elena help her subjects see what the holidays are really about? Ages 3-5. Available now in stores and online. Retail price $15.99

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Exclusive interview with the Director of Queen of Katwe, Mira Nair #QueenofKatweEvent


****Disney provided an all-expense paid trip for me to cover this great event ****

During the whirlwind press trip for Queen of Katwe, we were very fortunate to have a sit down interview with the amazing director, Mira Kair. Some of her best known films are Mississippi Masala, The Namesake, Monsoon Wedding and Salaam Bombay!, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Mira, was genuinely excited about her latest project Queen of Katwe and we were just as excited to get started with our questions!

 Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved in the project?

Mira Nair:  “This story of Phiona Mutesi, who lived 15 minutes from home,  I did not know about her.  I knew about her, because, a young man from this building, Tendo Nagenda, who’s a Ugandan,  VP of this -- of Disney came to see me in my garden in Kampala when he was at a family reunion about four years ago.  And he showed me this little article about Phiona in the ESPN journal, about this child who sold corn in Katwe, um, who now was heading to becoming a chess prodigy and going to the Olympics in Russia.  And I was completely struck by the story…”
 Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

What challenges did you face bringing this amazing story to life?

Mira Nair:  “The most beautiful challenge was to distill the love and familiarity I have with, my adopted home of Uganda, the people, the sassiness, the vibrancy…  I wanted to capture that sort of emphasis of like no matter what we don’t have, we will put forward something that is excellent.  The great challenge was to capture that sense of what we call in slang in Kampala lifist, somebody who embraces life fully and doesn’t complain about what you don’t have.  If you have half an inch of water, you will wash your hair, you know, and no one will know that you had a struggle.

This the quality of what I live around and this is the quality that I hoped to capture.  Phiona, in her real remarkably and utterly true story, gives us so much of that, because  the other thing I really wanted to capture is, you cannot do it alone. You have to have the fire in you, but it takes a village.  It takes a teacher to see your talent.  It takes a mother to shepherd you, whether it is a right shepherding or not.
The other sweet challenge was filming chess. It’s really a challenge to film chess, because it’s a highly intellectual game.  And it’s about strategizing and making moves, and how can I as a visual filmmaker, as a visualist, make chess interesting?  They were real games, real moves that Phiona was famous for.  It wasn’t a made-up situation. We filmed every game differently from the other.  And that was a challenge, because there’s only so many things you can do with the chess board.  How to create chess so that it can be emotional, dramatic, and propel the story forward, and yet not bore you to death and yet be, satisfying the chess officiandos”. 
  
Did you place chess before, or did you have to learn the game before the movie?

Mira Nair:  “I was the mother of a competitive chess player.  My son played competitive chess when he was eight, and we would go to Parsippany and go the Holiday Inn in Atlanta.  I was at all kinds of places… I was part of the chess circle, but I didn’t really know chess well.  I understood it, but I didn’t really play it.  Phiona Mutesi…taught me chess, prior to the shooting.  She would just laugh at me, because I was reckless and I would, I would just move the piece.  She would say, Mira, you must consider the other side of the board.  So much with the other side of the board.  It’s like a metaphor for the world. She would say are you, are you focusing on the game or on your film?  I said the film.  I love that she, as a teacher, she was fantastic”. 

 Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

How was it working with the costume designer, did you have to change outfits a lot?  

Mira Nair:  “The vibrancy of the style is something I have loved, as I lived there, you know, it’s, it’s about really having a sense of smartness…  
We worked with a great costume designer, Mobolaji Dawodu.  My fish seller was wearing a genuine Pucci dress, with the kitenge wrap on it.  Lupita’s clothing is not like made because she’s a movie star or anything.  This is how it is there, because all our clothing, the costumes in our film, all came from Owino, the actual second-hand market. We really did not have and did not need a big budget for this.  Even though everyone is dressed very vividly, it is actually how people are. And we went into the second-hand markets for all of it”.   
Can you talk about casting a little bit? How did you come upon bringing those into the film?

Mira Nair:  “I always work a lot with non-actors, people who have never faced the camera before, opposite legends like Denzel Washington, on this case Lupita and David.  That kind of, what I think is, alchemy between the, between the sort of purity and lack of artifice, of a child actor, of a child really, not even an actor, opposite a, a legend who has a lot of tricks to their trade and all those tricks kinda have to drop off when you’re faced with the purity and kinda freshness of a kid, especially a kid who comes from the same streets as the story that you’re filming, you know.  For me it was always critical that we don’t go too far afield to find our children.  All our kids came from Katwe or Chibuli, which is the neighboring community right cross the street from Katwe.  I only trust love.  I trust my instinct, you know. I have to love you, because I have to live with you for years”.
 Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

How has the shooting of the film impacted the people of Katwe and Kampala?  

Mira Nair:  “Yes. We have been doing several things.  One is we ran a green set, an ecological set….  Through the shooting of it, we turned everything into a recycled sort of heaven.  We also worked with the community of Katwe.  We called it the Legacy Project while we were shooting, which is all shot in Katwe and the real places anyway to ask what the community needed.   It was decided with the elders of the community that public toilets were the big thing.  We have a project with Disney, to build a whole series of public toilets in Katwe, just a small example.  Recently they had just purchased, land and a building in Katwe to house permanently the Chess Academy.  And then we have an educational fund for all the pioneers in the film”.
 Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

We learned some amazing facts during this interview.. Did you know that when casting for Phiona, Mira saw 700 girls, from all over including Uganda, Kampala, Kenya and in England? Wow! I cannot even imagine chatting with 700 people let alone having 700 auditions! It is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but Mira found that needle when she found out about a dancer named Madina Nalwanga, she was the girl who Mira felt was perfect to portray Phiona. Another amazing fact is even though Harriet (Phiona’s mother) does not speak English she still communicates with Mira to this very day in her own way. When a flower blooms in her garden she takes a picture and sends it to Mira, it is a wonderful connection they have, a connection without words but just with trees.  Overall it was wonderful getting to chat with Mira, she was funny and really genuine. 
Towards the end of the interview she was excited to introduce her son, who has a fun memorable song on the soundtrack, Young Cardamom's #1 Spice. This song is now available to download from Amazon. Click on the video below, and tell me if you can get this catchy song out of your head? I know I sure couldn’t, I made sure I downloaded it and I keep listing to it :).. Are you looking forward to seeing Disney’s Queen of Katwe? The movie is in select theaters now, and will be in theaters nationwide 9/30/16.
     

Like Queen of Katwe on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QueenOfKatwe/
Follow Queen of Katwe on Instagram:
 https://www.instagram.com/queenofkatwemovie/ 
Follow Queen of Katwe on Twitter: https://twitter.com/queenofkatwe
Visit the Queen of Katwe website: http://movies.disney.com/queen-of-katwe


Queen of Katwe is now in select theaters, and opening everywhere on 9/30/16!









Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions . No monitory compensation was received. I was not required to write a positive review. Your experience may differ. The opinions I have expressed are my own I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .

Check out some amazing gift ideas from the Classy Mommy Social #ClassyMommySocial


Recently I had the privilege of visiting The Franklin Institute for the Classy Mommy Social, where local bloggers had the chance to check out some great gift ideas for the upcoming holiday season from a variety of venders. Colleen Padilla, from www.ClassyMommy.com put together this great event to showcase some of her favorite items for gift giving. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Great new clips and featuretts from Disney’s Queen of Katwe #QueenOfKatweEvent #QueenOfKatwe




Are you excited for the release of Disney’s Queen of Katwe? Have you been following along with the coverage from the Queen of Katwe event? There are a few more great interviews to come, but until then I have some amazing featuretts and clips from Queen of Katwe for you all to enjoy.

"Never Surrender” Clip

“Eight Moves” Clip


“Opportunity” Clip

“Lucky Beginner” Clip


“Turning Dreams Into A Reality” Featurette
I would also like to share a great way to give back to those in need, HSN is excited to partner with Soular Backpacks! For every Soular Backpack purchased, a solar-powered backpack is given to a child in Africa to help study at night. Currently, children are using kerosene lamps, which can cause health complications. Soular Backpacks use natural energy from the sun during a child’s walk home from school.
Soular Backpack - Buy One, Give One. Make a difference today, and visit http://gohsn.co/gh6NNz to purchase a backpack for yourself and give one to someone who really needs it. What a wonderful promotion.

Like Queen of Katwe on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QueenOfKatwe/
Follow Queen of Katwe on Instagram:
 https://www.instagram.com/queenofkatwemovie/
Follow Queen of Katwe on Twitter: https://twitter.com/queenofkatwe
Visit the Queen of Katwe website: http://movies.disney.com/queen-of-katwe
Queen of Katwe is in theaters in limited release now and everywhere on September 30th!



Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions . No monitory compensation was received. I was not required to write a positive review. Your experience may differ. The opinions I have expressed are my own I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .

Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions, . No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. This is a unofficial fan site that is not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or Disney theme parks.

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